House approves Hayes’ ‘one-word’ change in state law to allow non-witnessing officers to make arrests


Feb. 13, 2014

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House approves Hayes’ ‘one-word’ change in state law to allow non-witnessing officers to make arrests

One word may not seem like much, but it could make all the difference in state law when it comes to protecting the public, says Rep. Dave Hayes. The House of Representatives approved Hayes’ bill Wednesday that would make a simple, but significant one-word change in the law as it relates to misdemeanor arrests.

“State law says an officer must witness a misdemeanor to make an arrest for it. The bill I am proposing would change one word, so that a suspect can be arrested without a warrant when the misdemeanor is witnessed by ‘an’ officer, not just ‘the’ arresting officer,” said Hayes, R-Camano Island.

Hayes, who is a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, says House Bill 2057 results from a case in Seattle in which one officer at a crime scene looked down from a multi-story building and witnessed a misdemeanor drug deal on the street. The witnessing officer radioed another officer on the street to apprehend the suspect and make the arrest. Because the other officer did not actually witness the crime, the case was thrown out of court.

“This incident set a precedent for future court cases, and has really complicated the work of law enforcement officers,” said Hayes, assistant ranking member of the House Public Safety Committee. “So my bill would allow law enforcement officers to conduct arrests in these misdemeanor cases, just as they have in the past. However, now it clarifies that it doesn’t have to be the witnessing officer that must make the arrest – just an officer.”

The measure passed the House, 93-4. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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